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Calendar for May 21

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Friday, May 21

Pandora Boxx from season 2 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is making her debut in the nation’s capital at EFN Lounge, 1318 9th St., N.W. Don’t miss this fun event with Universal Gear swimsuit fashion show, your favorite sugar-coated alt-pop music spun by drag DJ Summer Camp (aka Shea Van Horn of MIXTAPE), and a special performance from Pandora and Summer. 9 p.m.- 3 a.m., $5 cover for 21+, $10 cover for 18-20.

The DC Cowboys present Brodeo: Saddle up for a wild night at Remingtons, 639 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E., with your hosts, the DC Cowboys. Featuring country/western and disco/club music, live performances, giveaways, Jell-O shots, an auction and lots of sexy Cowboys. Proceeds benefit the DC Cowboys on their mission to provide free entertainment for HIV/AIDS charity organizations. Starts at 10 p.m.

Peach Pit 90’s Dance Party with DJ Matt Bailer (MIXTAPE) + guest DJ Aaron Riggins (HHHH) from 11-midnite. The party starts at 10 p.m. No cover at the Dahlak Restaurant, 1771 U St., N.W.

The Washington Blade’s 4th annual summer kick-off party at Blue Moon, 35 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, DE, 6-8 p.m.

Saturday, May 22

Wicked Jezabel benefit concert sponsored by the John Guggenmos team of McWilliams/Ballard. Featuring all-lesbian party band Wicked Jezabel with performances by Charm City Boys and DC Kings. The concert is being held at Town Danceboutique, 2009 8th St. N.W., from 7-11 p.m., $15 cover (proceeds benefit Mautner Project). Call Jeanie at 202-332-5536 or e-mail [email protected] for more information.

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, goes to the National Zoo today. To participate, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Galeria Artesanos Don Bosco is continuing its Maryland Artists 2010 series with the work of Vincent Hughes. Hughes, whose studio is in Silver Spring, will exhibit his classical male nude figure studies along with Impressionist influenced watercolors and oils, May 22-June 18. A complimentary Italian wine and food tasting will be held at the opening reception May 22, 2-5 p.m. Galeria Artesanos Don Bosco is located in the heart of Federal Hill at 828 S. Charles St., Baltimore. For more information call 410-563-4577 or visit artesanosdonbosco.com

Latin Fusion “Amazon Night” at Cobalt, 1639 R St. N.W., with music by DJ Fantasy upstairs and DJ Stevie P downstairs, with performances by Phoenix Bloomingdale and Afrodita Washington, 9 p.m.-3 a.m., 21+.

Sunday, May 23

Sugarfree Sundays: Reloaded! Sugarfree Sundays at Eyebar, 1716 I St., N.W. (between 17th and 18th/Farragut Square). Doors open at 10 pm with no cover charge all night. Featuring the best hip-hop and house music, multiple DJs on multiple levels plus rooftop.

Monday, May 24

Burgundy Crescent “kicks up our heels” at Remingtons. To participate, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Tuesday, May 25

GLAAD Leadership Council kick-off event. The councils are local groups of volunteer leaders with a commitment and passion for GLAAD’s efforts to amplify the voice of the LGBT community. Sponsored by the Washington Blade, 6-8 p.m. at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, 1526 14th St., N.W. Tickets are $25. Enjoy wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres; GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios will attend.

Wednesday, May 26

Men of Mautner celebration honoring gay D.C. Council member David Catania, 7-9 p.m., 701 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Sponsored by Ackerman Legal PLLC; tickets $100 at mautnerproject.org.

DC Black Pride 2010: Town Hall, 7-9 p.m. Visit dcblackpride.org/ for more information on topic and location. Full coverage of this year’s Black Pride in the May 28 Washington Blade.

“Sex and the City 2” premiere presented by Fresh of Georgetown. The evening starts with an open Skyy Vodka bar at Mate for general admission or an open Moet and Belvedere bar at Georgetown’s Ritz Carlton for VIP ticketholders. General admission: $60, 6:30 p.m. pre- reception at Mate, 3101 K St., N.W. 8 p.m. pre-screening at AMC Loews, 3111 K St. VIP tickets $110, 6:30 p.m. pre-reception at the Ritz Carlton, 3100 South St., N.W., 8 p.m. Visit boxofficetickets.com/cherry for full information.

Thursday, May 27

DC Black Pride 2010: Volunteer orientation 7- 9 p.m. at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza, 14th & K streets, N.W. Visit dcblackpride.org/ for more information

Fourth annual HIPSXotic Carnival at The Palace of Wonders, 1210 H St., N.E., 6 p.m. Happy hour with special surprises, palm readings, henna, face painting and more benefiting HIPS, a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals engaged in sex work and drug use lead healthy lives. Limited VIP and general admission pre-sale tickets available now at HIPS.org. $10-$20 suggested donation.

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Movies

New music documentary is ‘Velvet’ perfection

A piece of pure cinema that exemplifies its genre while transcending it

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The Velvet Underground (Photo courtesy of Apple TV)

When it comes to great music documentaries – the ones that stick with you after you watch and make you want to come back to them again and again – there is one ingredient that stands out as a common thread: immediacy.

From D.A. Pennebaker’s fly-on-the-wall chronicle of young Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of the UK in “Don’t Look Back,” to Martin Scorcese’s joyful document of The Band’s final concert performance in “The Last Waltz,” to Jonathan Demme’s thrilling cinematic rendering of the Talking Heads in performance at the peak of their creative genius in “Stop Making Sense,” all of these now-revered films have endured – indeed, even grown – in popularity over the years because they captured the talent, the personality, and the power of their subjects on celluloid and preserved it for the ages, allowing generations of audiences, fans and soon-to-be-fans alike, to feel as if they were there.

But none, perhaps, have ever done it quite so viscerally as Todd Haynes’ “The Velvet Underground.” This is a remarkable feat when you consider that the films listed above, as well as most of the other highly regarded “rockumentaries” of the past, were all concert films, showing the performers at their center in the full bloom of their musical gifts, and Haynes’ film is not that. It’s something else, something singular, a piece of pure cinema that exemplifies its genre while transcending it entirely.

The basic outline of the band’s story is well known, now. Coalesced in the early ‘60s New York art scene around a pair of charismatic geniuses (John Cale and Lou Reed), the Velvet Underground was swept into the orbit and under the wing of Andy Warhol, who turned them into the house band at his famous “Factory,” added to their mix an exotic European chanteuse named Nico, and launched their record career by producing their first album – and designing an instantly iconic cover for it featuring a banana, to boot. They were, for a while, the darlings of the New York underground set, birthing a handful of additional albums across the latter years of the decade; but their sound, which was experimental, rough, and a far cry from the flower-power sound being embraced within the status quo of Middle American music fans, did not catch on. That, combined with the volatility of the relationships at its core, ensured an ignoble and unsung dissolution for the band; though its two front men went on to forge expansive solo careers on their own, the Velvets themselves remained a kind of blip, an ephemeral presence in the history of rock – and the history of New York – remembered by anyone who wasn’t actually on the scene as nothing more than a buzzy band they never actually heard with a catchy name and a familiar album cover.

As one of the voice-over interviewees in Haynes’ movie points out, however, the counterculture wasn’t actually the counterculture – it was the culture. The rest of the world just didn’t know it yet. Decades later the Velvet Underground is credited with, among other things, providing early inspiration for what would become the punk rock movement, to say nothing of influencing the aesthetic palate of (surely without exaggeration) thousands of musicians who would go on to make great music themselves – often sounding nothing like the Velvets, but somehow cut from the same raw, edgy, white-hot honest cloth, nonetheless. Yet in their moment, they were doomed before they had even begun to become a sideshow attraction, hurling performative realness in the face of a curious-but-disinterested glitterati crowd that was already embodying the superficial fakeness that would be so aptly monikered, both as an ethos and a watchword, as “Plastics” by Buck Henry and Mike Nichols in “The Graduate” barely a year after their first album was pressed.

Frankly, it’s the kind of story that makes for a perfect rock ‘n roll legend, and the kind of legend that deserves to be explored in a film that befits its almost mythic, archetypal underpinnings. There’s nobody more qualified to deliver that film than Todd Haynes.

Haynes, of course, is a pioneer of the ‘90s “New Queer Cinema,” whose body of work has maintained a consistent yet multi-faceted focus on key themes that include outsider-ism, dysfunctional socialization, and the fluid nature of sexuality and gender. Each and any of these interests would be enough to make him a perfect fit as the person to tell the story of the Velvet Underground, but what gives him the ability to make it a masterpiece is his ongoing fascination with music and nostalgia. Beginning with his controversial debut short “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,” the musical landscape of his formative years has been inseparable from his milieu, and films such as his glam-rock fantasia “Velvet Goldmine” or his post-modernist Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” have dotted his career like cornerstones. Likewise, his painstaking recreation of the past in period pieces like “Far From Heaven,” “Carol,” or “Wonderstruck” has proven his ability not just to capture the look and feel of a bygone era, but to transport audiences right back into it.

In “The Velvet Underground,” it’s more like he transports the era to the audience. His comprehensive chronicle is not just the story of the band or its members, but the story of the time and place that allowed them to exist, in which a generation waking up from the toxic artificiality of their parents’ “American Dream” took creative control of the future through an unprecedented explosion of art and culture. Art was a by-any-means-necessary endeavor that now demanded a fluency across various forms of media, and a blending together of any and every thing that worked to get the message across. And yes, sometimes the media itself was the message, but even within that depressingly superficial reality was room for an infinite layering of style and substance that could take your breath away.

That description of the era in which the Velvet Underground thrived, in which Andy Warhol turned the shallow into the profound (whether he knew it or not), in which music and film and photography and poetry and painting and every other form of expression blended together in a heady and world-changing whirlwind, is also the perfect description of Haynes’ film. Yes, there are famous veterans of the age sharing their memories and their insights, yes there is copious archival footage (including the godsend of Warhol’s filmed portraits of the legendary faces in his orbit), yes we get to hear about Lou Reed’s struggle with his sexual identity – and it’s refreshing that Haynes makes no effort to categorize or finalize that aspect of the rock legend’s persona, but merely lets it be a fact. But even though “The Velvet Underground” checks off all the boxes to be a documentary, it’s something much more. Thanks to Haynes’ seamless blend of visuals, words, history, and – always and above all – music, it’s a total sensory experience, which deserves to be seen in a theater whether you subscribe to Apple TV or not. It puts you right in the middle of a world that still casts a huge shadow on our culture today.

And it’s unforgettable.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Best Of LGBTQ DC party

Blade’s 20th annual awards celebrated at Hook Hall

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Cake performs at the Best of LGBTQ D.C. Awards Party on Oct. 21. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade presented the 20th annual Best of LGBTQ D.C. Awards at a party at Hook Hall on Thursday, Oct. 21. To view this year’s winners, click here.

Event sponsored by Absolut, DC Brau and Washington Regional Transplant Community.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Arts & Entertainment

First Trans Amazon introduced by DC Comics In ‘Wonder Woman’

DC Comics-Warner Brothers became more LGBTQ+ inclusive with the introduction of the character of Bia, a Black trans woman

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Courtesy of DC Comics-Warner Brothers

BURBANK – The world of DC Comics-Warner Brothers became more LGBTQ+ inclusive this weekend as the venerable comic book franchise of Wonder Woman expanded with the introduction of the character of Bia, a Black trans woman, in the first issue of the series Nubia & The Amazons.

Earlier this month on National Coming Out Day, the canon of the Superman series changed for the life of Jon Kent, the Superman of Earth and son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, taking a bold new direction. After initially striking up a friendship with reporter Jay Nakamura, he and Jon become romantically involved, making Kent an Out bisexual character.

In this latest offering, Stephanie Williams and Vita Ayala, writers and creators confirmed that Bia is a Black Trans woman. They stressed that she “isn’t a box to tick … [she] is important to her community. Just as Black trans women are important to us in real life.” 

Of special significance to the introduction of the character in the DC Comic worlds was the endorsement of actress Lynda Carter who played the title role of Wonder Woman on television based on the comic book superheroine, which aired on ABC and later on CBS from 1975 to 1979. Earlier in the week Carter tweeted her support of Trans women;

Writing for the DC Comics-Warner Brothers website blog, co-creator Stephanie Williams said;

It’s been a dream to work with the likes of Vita Ayala, a non-binary Afro-Latinx comic writer who has been making quite a name for themselves. And then there is the illustrious and widely talented and dedicated Afro-Latina artist Alitha Martinez who is already in the comic hall of fame for all-time greats. Her passion for Nubia is unmatched. It shows in every cover and panel from Nubia’s Future State story written by L.L. McKinney, her Infinite Frontier #0 story written by Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad, and now the Nubia and the Amazons miniseries written by myself and Vita Ayala.”

Courtesy of DC Comics-Warner Brothers

I’m so excited about the history we’re creating, adding to, and remixing. The foundation has always been there, but needed some TLC. As Nubia embarks on this new journey as Queen of Themyscira, I hope her rebirth will be met with open arms and the desire to keep her always at the forefront. Nubia, now being queen, is poetic in so many ways, but one that stays on my mind is the very personal connection I feel. As I help to add to her legacy, she’s opened the door wider to my own,” Williams said adding:

Long may Queen Nubia reign, forever and always.”

Nubia and the Amazons #1 by Stephanie Williams, Vita Ayala and Alitha Martinez is now available in print and as a digital comic book.

Along with co-writing Nubia and the Amazons, Stephanie Williams writes about comics, TV and movies for DCComics.com. Check out more of her work on Den of Geek, What To Watch, Nerdist and SYFY Wire and be sure to follow her on both Twitter and Instagram at @steph_I_will.

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